Don’t expect Apple to buy Netflix this year with the billions of dollars it repatriates–despite that widely shared analyst report this morning that offered almost even odds of such a deal. (Even in the unlikely event it happens, it won’t be due to the sudden influx of cash available to the company as a result of the new tax law.)
The new GOP tax bill, signed by the president in 2017’s final days, gives Apple the option to bring its huge $250 billion of cash held offshore back to the U.S. at a far lower tax rate (15.5% versus the 35% in the old law). A couple of Citi analysts, Jim Suva and Asiya Merchant, believe Apple may use a big chunk of that repatriated money to buy Netflix. They give the deal a 40% chance.
“The firm has too much cash–nearly $250 billion–growing at $50 billion a year,” the analysts wrote in their research note.
I suspect Apple took a serious look at Netflix a couple of years ago, and may have kept the possibility on the table. Buying the streaming giant is within the realm of possibility, but its likelihood probably has little or nothing to do with the repatriated money for these reasons:
1. Suva and Asiya base their prediction on the assumption that Apple will bring its entire $252 billion war chest of overseas cash back to the U.S. They speculate that, after taxes, Apple will be able to keep about $220 billion of the money, roughly a third of which would be needed to buy Netflix.
But Apple won’t bring its entire cash hoard back to the U.S., a source with knowledge of the matter tells Fast Company. It will bring back only about half in 2018.
2. Apple’s acquisition…